17/54 Corporal James (Jim) Gardner - Auckland Infantry Regiment 

James was born in Pauatahanui on 10th November 1887 the eldest son of Elizabeth Ann (nee Boulton) and James Gardner.[i] James had two younger sisters and two younger brothers.

In the 1890 there were a number of Gardner’s livings in the Pauatahanui area with the ‘Gardner Brothers’ operating a
saw mill in the area in the 1890’s.[ii]

On the Boulton side of the family James’ grandfather had run one of the first hotels in Pauatahanui up to 1877 and then had retired to become a full time sheep farmer.[iii]

The is no direct information on what James Gardner worked at but tragedy would hit the family with the early death,
at 44 years old, of James Gardner. James Gardner was buried at the Pauatahanui Cemetery. Elizabeth Anne and her five children left Pauatahanui at some stage after the death of her husband. Jim’s younger brothers Kenneth (Ken) like his siblings went to Pauatahanui School enrolling in 1899 but does  not appear in the 1908 photo of school children at Pauatahanui School.[iv]

On 29th October 1914 Jim Gardner a single farmer from Shannon enlisted
in the Veterinary Corps of the New Zealand Expeditionary Corp and entered
camp on the 20th November 1914 as 17/64 Trooper James Gardner,
New Zealand Veterinary Corps.

Following training and prior to departing for overseas service
Trooper Gardner was promoted to Lance Corporal and sailed on the
14th December 1915 with the 2nd Reinforcements, NZ Veterinary Corp.
Lance Corporal arrived in Egypt in January 1915. Lance Corporal Gardner
remained with the forces in Egypt supporting the campaign in Egypt and
Palestine against the Ottoman forces. Lance Corporal Gardner was prompted
to Corporal Gardner on 21st March 1915
17/54 Corporal James Gardner - NZ Veternary Corp (Egypt c1916)
With the end of the Gallipoli campaign the NZEF reorganised before
deployment to France.  Corporal Gardner was transferred, on 28th March
1916, from the NZVC to the 1st Machine Gun Company where he underwent
a period of instruction on the Lewis Gun. Following training he was posted,
to the 2nd Battalion, Auckland Infantry Regiment which departed for France
on 6th April 1916.

In France the New Zealand Division, of which the Auckland Infantry Battalion was part of, were posted to the Armentieres
a 'quiet sector' to train in trench warfare. The launch of the Battle of the Somme in July 1916, the New Zealand Division's role in the battle was restricted to raids and demonstartions in their sector to tie down German reserves. Even so by the time the New Zealand Division was relieved in August, it had incurred 2,500 casualties, including 375 dead.

One of these casualtoes was 17/64 Corporal James Gardner, No 4 Lewis Gun Section, 1st Battalion Auckland Infantry who suffered multiple gunshot wounds on the night of 8th July 196 from which he died.

17/64 Corporal James Gardner is buried in the Cite Bonjean Military Cemetery Armentieres and is also remembered on
his parent’s grave in Pauatahanui.
 Jim was remembered by his younger sister
Alice Margaret Butterworth who on the anniversary
of his death inserted a in memoriam a in the
newspapers up until 1945[v].

James Gardner is also remembered on the St Albans
Church, Pauatahanui, Honour Board of men from
the district who served in World War One. Also listed
in St Albans is Jim’s younger brother Ken Gardner.

Paperspast Online
Pauatahanui - A local History
Archway Archives New Zealand Military Files: 17/64 Corporal James Gardner

​Cite Bonjean Military Cemetery - NZ Wargraves Project
Pauatahanui Grave - Allan Dodson
NZ Lewis Gunners - RSA Collection
17/64 Corporal James Gardner c1916 - 

[i] Archway Archives New Zealand – Military records: 17/64 Corporal James Gardner
[ii] Gardner Brothers: Pauatahanui-a local history: page 94
[iii] Boulton family: Pauatahanui-a local history: page 231
[iv] 1908 Pauatahanui School: Pataka
[v] Roll of Honour (9th July 1945) Evening Post. 

NZ Lewis Gunners trainin at Sling Camp